Motherwell: Excerpt From ‘The Feminist’s Guide to Raising a Little Princess’

Who’s afraid of princesses?

Me, that’s who.

I even hated the Disney princesses a little bit.

That’s bananas, you’re probably thinking. What have they ever done to you?

It’s a fair question. At first, they look pretty innocent. None of the Disney princesses has ever hit a puppy, as far as I know. They’re not lobbyists trying to overturn Roe vs Wade. They’re not responsible for me never having fulfilled my secret dream of living in Barcelona, and they’ve never even run a Ponzi scheme to defraud elderly people out of their savings. So what was my problem?

It started, of course, when I watched the Disney princess movies for the first time as a little girl. I liked them. I liked Bambi much more, but the princesses were ok. I never fantasized that I was a princess, however, or dreamt that I’d become one. Still, in spite of my apathy I know the princesses affected me. Because once I got older, I waited for my prince to come.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

But this isn’t about how there were no good men. This is about how I waited because I was certain I’d eventually find the perfect boyfriend who would become my ideal husband. That was the fairytale narrative.

As this story was being sold to me both in the movie theater and at school, I played it safe. I spent my childhood being good, chaste and having faith. At 15, I was lonely, but I believed it would all work out. At 20 I was very lonely yet still believed that my prince would come. At 25, I despaired because everyone I knew had been in a serious relationship except for me.

Was my decade of loneliness the fault of the princesses? More to the point, should I sue Disney for $179 billion?

Let’s examine the evidence. I’m 45. When I refer to “princess movies,” I mean the trio I grew up with—Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. If Disney princesses have a reputation for being passive creampuffs, it’s because of these three dull, uninspiring icons. I dare you to call these characters “heroines” with a straight face. Two of the princesses literally sleep through parts of their story.

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